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The Difficult Calling To Be and Remain Single

In the last three verses of Sunday's text Christ speaks of being a eunuch. His comments are in response to the disciples who have reacted to his difficult teaching on marriage with the (comical? exasperated?) observation that it would be better to remain single. It's an extreme observation, since voluntarily remaining single was culturally very unusual and suggested a refu...

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Praying Scripture

Early last year (even before we knew it was going to be "2020"), I struggled with both my devotions and prayer life. I frequently found my mind wandering as I read the Scriptures in the morning. While I rarely missed my weekday readings, I frequently had to restart them because I hadn't focused on what I was reading. Similarly, my prayers suffered, being brief or repetitiv...

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The A-vangelical Movement

While we may agree that these are unprecedented times, the roots beneath our current societal brokenness run deep and are terribly familiar. For many years, we have witnessed an increasing breakdown in societal norms. Some believe thisbreakdown to be progress, while others view it as the path to destruction. In various ways, both are correct, and that shouldn't surprise us...

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Watch and Pray

We are entering that storm season that gives my children the most anxiety.Whenever it is going to rain, or a storm is forecast, my children ask the same questions over and over again.Is it going to lightning?Will trees fall down?Ruth and I have to be careful how we talk about a storm that has warned severity.It is inevitable; a storm will come, and we should be prepared. I...

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A Daily Task

As I sit in my office wondering what I should write this week for our blog, I am drawn to all the things that are upcoming.A blog can often feel like another busy thing that must be done in a week full of tasks. I feel somewhat ashamed.My calling in the ministry is no mere task or checklist. Of course, there are things that must be accomplished, and I love clearing a check...

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Moving into New Digs

As most of you know, we will be moving into the Martin Center for worship on Sunday mornings starting March 7. We are very excited about this transition! Some things will be staying the same and some things will be very differentStaying the same We will keep our current schedule on Sunday mornings. Worship will begin at 9am. There will not be any Sunday school initiall...

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Is Something Lacking in Christ's Afflictions?

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church..."Colossians 1:24 ESVIn Sunday's sermon I made reference to several reasons we suffer as Christians. One reason is to fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.On its face such an assertion seems no...

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Is Peter the head of the Church? And why couldn’t the disciples tell people Jesus was the Messiah?

Two difficulties in Sunday's passage deserve more attention. As I mentioned in the sermon, some believe that Christ made Peter the head of the Church in these verses (specifically Matthew 16:18). I suggested instead that we should understand Christ to be saying that it is upon Peter as he makes this confession that Christ is building his Church, and not just Peter, but all...

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Church Attendance in a Time of COVID

We're approaching one year since worship services were suddenly canceled due to our entire leadership being exposed to COVID and the school simultaneously shutting us out of the property. It has indeed been a strange year and we've all had to learn to make hard choices and unusual ones. One of those choices is the decision whether or not to attend weekly worship in person....

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Be a Doer of the Word

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forge...

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ELI Report from Todd Bradley

Have you ever been deceived?Most of us have.Sometimes it's about a minor issue; other times it is more significant and costly.As we look back on those more impactful deceptions, we get uncomfortable remembering how much we trusted what we heard.It sounded so good, but in the end, it was unreliable and led us in a harmful direction.As we engage in the Church's mission of gl...

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ELI Report from Joel McCall

We Finished an Amazing Week Teaching Hebrews to Rwandan Pastors!What a week!From Monday, Nov 30 - Friday, Dec 4, I team taught with Dave Forbes and Todd Bradly. We got up by3:15AM each morning(Todd rose at 2AM Nashville time) to begin team teaching at 4AM.My body screamed for more sleep but serving Jesus is worth infinitely more than a warm bed.The conferences went extreme...

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Things My Kids Say, Part 2

It wasn't that long ago that a powerful wind came through in a matter of minutes; as a result of that wind, we lost four trees in our yard!I thought it was quite exciting to see the power of the wind as I stood at the front stoop with the door open.I yelled out with excitementand was astonishment at the power, but I didn't know that behind me, Mackie and Jonah were absorbi...

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Things My Kids Say

Children tend to say exactly what they are feeling.Sometimes this means they say something in public that embarrasses you.Sometimes it is a little too personal.But I find it to almost always be genuine, especially when it comes to their fears.It is often in those moments that there is an opportunity to draw out a spiritual lesson.And more often than not, it is an exercise ...

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Privileged Subjects of the True King

"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,whose hope is in the LORD his God"Psalm 146:5As all of us wait to find out who our next president will be, I want to remind you of the simple truth that we are subjects of the King in heaven; our King who laughs in derision at the nations while they rage against him and against his Messiah, Jesus (Psalm 2). This doesn't mean th...

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Autumn and Hope Remembered

Finally Middle Tennessee is getting some cool weather as we officially pass into Autumn. Autumn is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love the cool weather and the beautiful colors. Some of my favorite childhood memories of annual rituals are associated with Autumn and into the Advent season, when Autumn officially ends. Watching Charlie Brown Specials and bundling up ...

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A New Sunday School Series

Beginning in a few weeks, we are going to shift in Sunday School from working our way through the Psalms to a focus on what we call Biblical Theology. This approach to theology is focused on interpreting Scripture as it unfolds from beginning to end, keeping Christ's person and work at the center of the unfolding narrative.In a way, this is lifting the hood to show you wha...

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Just Who Was Jesus of Nazareth?

This question and how you answer it are of utmost importance. In fact, your eternal destiny depends upon you answering it well.Over the next few Sundays, as we work through Matthew 11 and 12, we will be confronted with the identity of Jesus and the response of the people to his claims. This section of Matthew opens with John that Baptist, of all people, wondering if Jesus ...

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Church Discipline: Love Is Patient

I want to close this series out with one last reminder abouthowthe Session needs to go about its work in church discipline.Because the Session is motivated by lovelove for Christ, love for the Church, and love for the sinnerlove must punctuate all that the Session says and does. Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13that"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; ...

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Church Discipline: Rules for Your Good, Part 2

Last week I introduced the three acts of discipline a Session can take with an unrepentant member: Admonition, Suspension from the Sacraments, and Excommunication. This week we'll consider these in more detail.Admonition is simply a formal statement from the Sessioncalling you to repent and turn from your sin. This is sometimes administered to one who has already repented ...

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Church Discipline: Rules for Your Good, Part 1

When it comes to administering church discipline, a Session can do everything else right, but if they don't act out of love for the sinner and in a loving fashion, they can hardly expect the discipline to bear much godly fruit.The "how" of church discipline involves two aspects. One is the more formal and technical rules of discipline. These can seem cold and perhaps too f...

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Church Discipline: Motives Matter

Last week we considered what church discipline is. This week I want to answer "Why do we do it?" The truth is, our motives in discipline matter! If the Session is motivated by a desire to wield power,to get retribution for perceived personal offenses, orto punish behavior, then their motives are not godly motives. There are several proper motives, however, that when combin...

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Church Discipline: The Missing Mark of the Church

Few subjects create more anxiety, confusion, and even anger than the subject of church discipline. For most people, they have either never seen it done, or they've seen it done poorly. Mix in some rugged American individualism and the heart's natural dislike of being called to repentance, and you get a very thorough dislike and mistrust of church discipline on the part of ...

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But, About the Foreigner...

As my brother, Joel McCall, wrote last week, ELI is making major adjustments to serve our national partners in Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.It is humbling and thrilling to work with these retired pastors, missionaries, and professors who want to "finish well" by training pastors around the world who are unable to go to seminary.One of my...

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Christian Meditation - Psalm 1

I just opened Facebook on my phone. Another building on fire. Another minister talking about the need for a new denomination. Another murderous slaughter of Christians in Nigeria. Another plague sweeping Africa. Another marchin another cityhijacked by looters. Another Supreme Court ruling. And another storm coming tomorrow. Another rant from friends concerning masks on bot...

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When Prayer Is Hard

I mentioned Sunday in my sermon that prayer is sometimes hard. Why is that? Here are a few reasons to consider:Sin and Shame.Sometimes prayer is hard because we are aware of our sin, and we are ashamed andtrying to avoid God. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we try to cover our sins ourselves, and we hide from God when he pursues us. If this is what is keeping you from him...

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Praying with the Saints

I suspect few things can induce shame in a Christian as quickly as a pastor bringing up the subject of prayer. Few evangelical Christians would say they believe they pray enough. Some of that is because many don't really understand what prayer is. Others may feel guilty or inadequate because they sense the importance of prayer and can't imagine that they pray as often as t...

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The Order of Worship: Benediction

We conclude our series on the Order of Worshipby considering the Benediction. The Benediction is God's blessing on his people as we go out. God opened the worship by calling us to worship, and he closes the worship by sending us out with his blessing.We see this action commanded by God in Numbers 6:2227. God says that by this action, Aaron and his sons put the name of God ...

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